The Ups and Downs of the Solo Leveling Anime

Solo Leveling is considered one of the best series in the manwha world. With A-1 Pictures stepping it up with their anime adaptation, the series has also become one of the best in the anime industry.

The plot is great, the fight scenes are also cool, and our underdog protagonist is loved by all. However, certain drawbacks made the anime controversial.

Why Solo Leveling Anime is One of the Best in the Industry?

1. Solo Leveling Anime Maintains the Originality of The Manwha

The Solo Leveling anime does an incredible job of maintaining the originality of the manwha, even with some changes in the storyline. For example, the anime starts with a flashback of the Jeju Island raid in Korea, providing an overall perspective about the Solo Leveling world.

Jinwoo and Jinah
Jinwoo and Jinah | Source: Fandom

Another example is when Jinah asks Jinwoo about his most recent raid, forcing him to reflect on the raid’s events and his irreversible actions. This scene helps flesh out Jinwoo’s character arc better and confirms how much the System has changed Jinwoo.

There are more additions, such as Sung Jinwoo being stabbed by the goblins, changing his choice of weapon, and becoming less solitary. Overall, these small changes are appropriate for animated storytelling.

2. A-1 Picture’s Top-Notch Animation

A-1 Pictures, known for quality series like Your Lie in April, Sword Art Online, and Kaguya Sama: Love is War, has done a praiseworthy job with the animation of Solo Leveling. The studio has successfully brought to life the iconic moments of the protagonist, Sung Jinwoo, and other characters with top-notch animation, detailed character designs and fluid action sequences. 

Igris | Source: Fandom

The fight between Sung Jinwoo and Igris in episode 11 was one of the best scenes. The studio seemed to put everything into that single fight and pushed its boundaries.

Despite initial doubts due to A-1 Pictures’ past mishandled adaptations, the studio has defied expectations and delivered a stunning anime that became the most-watched and highest-rated anime of Winter 2024.

3. Excellent International Distribution With a Variety of Dubs

Sung Jinwoo and his shadow army
Sung Jinwoo and his shadow army | Source: Crunchyroll

Solo Leveling’s production team did great work in distributing the anime worldwide with excellent English dub and international productions. The English dub, led by ADR director Caitlin Glass, was top-notch, especially the casting. 

However, the anime was also made available in multiple languages beyond English, including Japanese, Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Korean, making it accessible to a global audience.

4. The Music Added an Extra Punch to The Narrative

Solo Leveling - Opening | LEveL

The music videos and soundtracks of Solo Leveling significantly enhance the overall quality of the series. Fans enjoyed the official trailer and opening theme, “LEveL,” by Hiroyuki Sawano [nZk] and TOMORROW X TOGETHER, for their captivating visuals and powerful music. 

Additionally, the series features various original soundtracks (OSTs) that perfectly complement the intense action scenes and emotional moments. For instance, the “DARK ARIA <LV2>” from Episode 6, created by SawanoHiroyuki [nZk]: XAI, is a standout piece that adds depth to the narrative.

If you are interested, these music videos and soundtracks are available on platforms like YouTube and Spotify.

5. Characters Stronger Than The MC Were Introduced Earlier

Hunter's Association President Go-Gunhee
Hunter’s Association President Go-Gunhee | Source: Crunchyroll

Sung might be the strongest, but he was initially the weakest E-ranker. And the other S-rankers were far stronger than him in the early episodes. Episode 1 started off with the Jeju Island raid’s flashback and introduced prominent S-rank hunters, such as Baek Yoonho, Choi Jong-In, and Min Byung-Gyu, who only show up later in the manhwa adaptation.

Our beloved Cha Hae-In made a dazzling appearance early on (in the manwha, Hae-in doesn’t appear until chapter 65). President Go of the Hunter’s Association also made a brief appearance in episode 1, giving fans the idea of a deeper political tide in the future.

6. Cultural Issues Were Well-Handled

Sota Furuhashi
Sota Furuhashi | Source: YouTube

Sota Furuhashi, producer of Solo Leveling anime, recently revealed that the anime has different versions tailored for Japanese and international audiences. The localization process involved using Japanese names for characters and settings in the anime’s domestic release while adhering to the original Korean names for global audiences. 

In addition, the background art and settings depicted in the anime were also given due attention. Furuhashi explained that they had to consider whether the settings should reflect Korean or Japanese cityscapes.

This sparked controversy due to historical tensions between Japan and Korea, and concerns over the story’s Korean roots. Despite the outrage, the series was well received. 

The Downside of The Solo Leveling Anime

1. Lack of Fanservice And Early Character Development 

Solo Leveling primarily focuses on Jinwoo, while other characters act mostly as his admirers because of his power. However, the series has a weak point in its lack of character development, especially for side characters. It appears to be more about the fight scenes than the narrative or character growth, which makes it more appealing, mainly to action fans.

Cha Hae-in
Cha Hae-in | Source: Fandom

Another downside is that it lacks fanservice. There are two female Hunters, Joohee Lee and Hae-In Cha. As an S-ranked Hunter, Hae-In is portrayed for her skills rather than her attractiveness. In contrast, the male characters’ physiques are emphasized more, such as Jinwoo’s toned-down body when working out.

Meanwhile, Joohee supports the protagonist Jinwoo due to his initial weakness, and their relationship is based on mutual respect and close friendship. Basically, fanservice is rarely a focus point in the Solo Leveling anime.

2. Anime Diverts From The Source And Lacks Comic Elements 

Jinwoo imagines himself bulked up
Jinwoo imagines himself bulked up | Source: WebNovel

Solo Leveling anime is based more on the light novel than the manhwa. Hence, it lacks the comic elements in the manhwa, particularly in Episode 5.

The anime omits the “chibi” cutaways, such as Sung Jinwoo’s imagined buff body, which adds humor and character depth to the manhwa. This absence of comedy and character shift deviates from the version fans are familiar with.

3. Pacing Problem 

The Solo Leveling anime is enjoyable, but some viewers feel that the pacing is too fast. With Jinwoo being the sole focus of season 1, everything feels rushed. In episode 5, Sung Jinwoo’s design and personality undergo a significant change that makes him nearly unrecognizable. 

Toned down Jinwoo
Toned down Jinwoo | Source: Crunchyroll

He becomes more assertive and confident, in contrast to his previous timid and insecure persona. While this change aligns with his new powers, the sudden transformation, including physical changes, is too jarring for some fans.

Despite some flaws, the anime still stands as one of the best so far. And it will be interesting to see how season 2 will fix these issues.

About Solo Leveling

Solo Leveling is a Korean Webtoon written by Chu Gong and illustrated by Jang Sung Rak. It is adapted from the web novel; I Alone Level Up. Kakaopage publishes it in South Korea and Piccoma in Japan. The series ended in December 2021 and has been collected into 14 volumes.

Portals connecting the Earth to realms of monsters have opened up, and hunters defeat those monsters. Sung Jin Woo belongs to the lowest level of hunters, but after getting involved in a Dungeon quest, he alone can see quests like that of a game.

His journey to become the most powerful hunter and bring peace back to Earth begins.


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